Dome Tent vs Backpacking Tent | Which is the Best for Camping?

When comparing a dome tent vs backpacking tents, they each offer low-weight options great for traveling campers but are backpacking tents worth the extra cost to shave a few pounds?

We’ve broken down the major similarities and differences of common tent types to help you make the right decision for your next outdoor adventure!

Dome Tent vs Backpacking Tent

First, let’s break down each type of tent:

Dome Tent

dome tent vs backpacking tent

One of the most common tent types, the dome tent is distinguished by having two crossed poles anchored in the four corners to form the tent frame.


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True to their name, backpacking tents are intended for backpacking! They are traditionally smaller than most other tent types as their primary focus is keeping the weight down while protecting you from the elements.

Major Differences

The biggest difference between dome tent vs backpacking tents are their price and weight. Similar to backpacking tents, dome tents have two or more poles that intersect to create the frame. Backpacking tents almost always have a shorter peak height as every bit of pole and fabric has been shaved off to save on weight wherever possible. In contrast, dome tents are frequently large enough to stand in and can come in large sizes up to about 8 people while backpacking tents won’t go above 4 people at their largest.

Both types of tents usually use a two-layer design to repel rain but a dome tent will be more comfortable to spend a long period of time inside during a storm with the larger amount of space and ability to stretch vertically a bit.

Backpacking tent’s largest advantage comes from their size and weight. Built specifically for backpacking, manufacturers use lightweight poles, minimally required fabric, and other techniques to get to crazy low weights. Some of them are under 2 pounds, even less if you ditch the bag the tent comes with. When every ounce counts, it can be well worth the extra cash to splurge on backpacking tents instead of the standard bulky dome tent you might already have in the gear shed.

Best Uses For Dome & Backpacking Tents

A backpacking tent is best used for its namesake, backpacking! Dome tents can be used for backpacking too but will add more weight to your pack than the more specialized tents will. Backpacking tents are a little small for use during family or car camping, especially with their low peak height, but they certainly will protect you from the weather no matter how short the roof is!



Family Camping

Car Camping


Feature Comparison | Dome Tent vs Backpacking Tent

Outside of the high portability where backpacking tents shine, dome tents have the higher possible capacity and lower cost. The tent types are similarly matched for other categories.


Dome Tent







Want more?

Check out our infographic and larger article covering the ten most common tent types or use our tent finding tool to quickly find the tents that suit your needs!

About the Author

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Robbie is a Co-Founder and editor at Midwest Camping. Robbie has backpacked over three hundred miles of the Appalachian trail, visited seventeen national parks, and camped regularly for the last two decades.

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